Raising awareness for World Mental Health Day

The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) designates October 10 as World Mental Health Day. In honor of efforts like these to raise awareness, promote access to care, and de-stigmatize issues around mental health we’ve put together a quick overview of yoga therapy’s potential role in mental and emotional well-being.

How yoga therapy supports mental health

According to yoga philosophy, mind and body are part of an integrated system. Because the mind and body are not separate, we can work on the mind through targeted practices in the body, and vice versa.

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A tool applied in one area—say, a breathing practice—can profoundly affect a completely different area of the body or the mind. For example, a yoga therapist might teach a client a particular type of breathwork (pranayama) to help them address their chronic asthma; if the client practices that breathing exercise regularly, she might find that her long-time anxiety has eased, too. IAYT-certified yoga therapist Veronica Zador notes, “When we relax our body, oftentimes we find it’s easier to relax the way we think as well.”

Here are several ways yoga therapy is being used to support mental well-being and build coping skills in various settings:

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A growing evidence base suggests that yoga therapy can promote general emotional balance and assist with mood regulation. Research into effects on specific concerns is promising, and yoga has been used as an adjunctive therapy for anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD, insomnia, and other conditions. The “Mental health” section on this page lists just a few of the studies in these areas.

You may also be wondering how yoga therapy relates to psychotherapy—this post outlines a few key differences between the disciplines.

As WFMH says, “mental health is a universal human right,” and innovative practices such as yoga therapy can support access to care for all kinds of humans.